During the summer season there is no shortage of orange cones on our local highways. Seems like every year we say, “Didn’t they just fix this road last year?” as we follow another detour from our familiar commutes. What was wrong with the road that it needed to be fixed? Maybe it was a simple re-surfacing as the road had eroded under massive amounts of traffic, or maybe it was a completely new road being created to accommodate growing numbers of vehicles on this route.
More and more I’m hearing of stories within the church where people are “deconstructing”, or even “deconverting”. Much more disconcerting than the construction zones on my familiar route, these stories reveal where detours from the historic Christian faith are occurring. People who often have grown up in the church have questioned everything they’ve been told and now turn away. People who have claimed Christ, many times in the public arena, but now reject Him. People who have assented to historic Christian creeds who now use the same Christian words but with entirely different meanings.
As I examine these stories, there are some themes that stand out to me. May we be aware of them, for ourselves and our children or others we lead.
- Know and read God’s word systematically. The errors that are repeated as people deconstruct their faith, or deconvert and leave all together, often stem from a faulty foundation. We often assume that Christians read the Word and know the God of the Bible. Bad assumption.
- Questions are ok. Some have left the faith because they thought they could never doubt or they’d be shamed for questioning. Join a trustworthy Bible study (when they’re under the authority of your church pastor/elders, this is a protection to you). Ask your questions to people who have godly fruit in their lives. Be humble, though, as you question–one theme I keep hearing is that people often think their questions are “new”. There’s nothing new under the sun. If you think there’s a contradiction in the Bible, someone else has already found it and researched it a lot, believe me.
- Follow God or your sin. In so many of these stories, people leave the historic Christian faith–the one that has stood the test of two thousand years–because they want to follow their sin but God tells them not to. This is most prevalent in those who still identify as Christian, use Christian terms, but have totally different meanings for these terms. Take two stories side by side: One is of a young woman who, in junior high, realized she was gay. Her pastor-father and Christian celebrity-mother researched and researched until they made the Bible say the exact opposite of its intention so that, in the end, they could affirm their daughter in her sin. The other story is of a man who didn’t grow up in the church, yet Jesus changed his heart and life in his 20s. Once changed, this man knew his homosexuality was a sin as he read the Bible and followed the Lord. He has committed himself to a life of carrying his cross and denying his flesh. This life he has chosen is not just for homosexuals; this is the Christian life.
As people are deconstructing all around us in the Church and leaving behind massive amounts of rubble, we must stand all the more firm on the Rock, who is Christ. Study the Word faithfully, read “the old dead guys” who have read the Bible and studied it far deeper than most of us ever could, humble ourselves–there is nothing new under the sun, and pray for one another to remain steadfast as the world becomes more and more “post-truth”.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. Hebrews 13:8-9a